Making a Difference West Edition

MAKING A DIFFERENCE: SCOPE uses core values to empower residents

By Dorany Pineda

Contributing Writer

SOUTH LOS ANGELES — Its core values are simple: justice, respect, responsibility, integrity and voice.

For more than 20 years, the Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education (SCOPE) has built its service of empowering South Los Angeles’ residents through those basic principles. Its focus has and continues to be creating social and economic justice for some of the city’s most overlooked and vulnerable residents: immigrants, women, low-income families and black and brown communities.

But its core values stem from a chaotic time in South Los Angeles’ history, namely, the Rodney King Riots of 1992. And the organization, formerly known as the Action for Grassroots Empowerment and Neighborhood Development Alternatives (AGENDA), arose as a retort to the social disarray.

“[SCOPE came] out of responding to the riots, responding to the violence and understanding that it was a larger response beyond what was happening at the moment with police brutality,” said Gloria Medina, the nonprofit’s deputy director. “But it was a response to decades of disinvestment, decades of police brutality, decades of disenfranchisement of community members.”

Once it found its footing, SCOPE became a grassroots organization that equipped the city’s residents with the tools and experiences necessary to take unjust social and economic matters into their own hands.

To do this, the nonprofit “organizes communities, develops leaders, collaborates through strategic alliances, builds capacity through training programs, and educates South L.A.’s residents to have an active role in shaping policies that affect the quality of life” in their region, reads its website.

Gloria Walton

One way it does this is through its Community Organizing Training Series, which teaches participants practices and key skills like writing effective outreach scripts and conducting qualitative and quantitative evaluations.

And since no nonprofit would be complete without efforts to get residents to be active and engaged citizens, SCOPE incorporates voter engagement campaigns and sessions.

To achieve a larger voter turnout, the nonprofit hosts several learning and strategic sessions focused on getting residents to voter booths. One of them is called Building Power Through Voter Engagement, a two-and-a-half day session that asks the question: “How can voter engagement and community organizing work together to build grassroots power both at and beyond the ballot box?”

Lately, though, the nonprofit has been focused on workforce models that take into account the obstacles that might prevent people from working, such as poor health or a criminal background.

But its key workforce area these days, Medina said, is in climate change and green economies.

“We are really looking at the investments that are coming in for climate change into communities like South L.A. and making sure there are workforce models within those investments.”

More than anything else, however, SCOPE is “a vehicle to elevate the voice of community members” which, with enough grassroot power, helps better the lives of South L.A. families.

INFORMATION BOX

President/CEO: Gloria Walton

Years in operation: 25

Annual budget: $2.5 million

Number of employees: 17

Location: 1715 W. Florence Ave., Los Angeles, 90047